German automakers Audi BMW and Daimler have taken a major step forward in digitized motoring with the acquisition of HERE from Nokia.
HERE is a mapping service that uses a variety of sources to return almost real-time information to users. The data gathered and shared by Audi, BMW and Daimler vehicles will significantly accelerate the development of the platform and enhance the user experience in and out of the car. Four out of every five new vehicles (equipped with navigation systems) sold in Europe and North America already use HERE digital maps.
“No one understands the potential of digital maps better than the HERE team with its 6,500 employees worldwide. The shareholders will therefore give HERE free rein in accelerating its growth strategy,” said Prof. Rupert Stadler, Chairman of Audi’s Management Board. “HERE has again and again redefined the map over the last 30 years. It is our expectation that it will continue to lead the industry in its next phase of innovation, thereby creating further value.”
“The map is evolving into a live representation of the world, giving us a second-by-second view of our cities and road networks,” added HERE President Sean Fernback. “Now we have the backing of three automotive companies which share our view that this map will be life-changing for people: it will power location services that improve mobility for people and enterprises, make driving safer and more enjoyable, and reduce emissions.”
What the automakers hope to derive, and help create, is real-time, first-time maps and location-based services that will help in the drive toward automated driving. HERE will retain its autonomy in day-to-day operations, though, as it fulfills its business mission. The company currently acquires data from more than 80,000 sources, including vehicles, mobile phones, infrastructure elements, and transport and logistics sources.
“The combination of this leading map technology with data from vehicles, devices and infrastructure will give HERE and its customers a clear advantage in the development of future mobility services,” said Klaus Fröhlich, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG for Development. “As more partners and customers join this model, HERE will be able to provide even better, more up-to-date maps and a precise digital real-time representation of our world of mobility.”
The addition of the more 2 million connected vehicles (from the three manufacturers) to the data-providers’ list means more data to enable HERE to improve its maps, products and services, and the three companies are evaluating the benefits of providing vehicle sensor data to HERE’s database. It is hoped that the data gathered from the additional vehicles will improve the ability to “see around corners” to anticipate road hazards and deal with different types of road users, both integral functions in the operation of autonomous vehicles.
“Customers from the automotive industry are particularly interested in highly-automated driving. But HERE is much more than a market leader in digital maps,” concluded Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler, responsible for Group Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development. “With its high level of innovation and exceptional employees, the company has the potential to become the leading provider of technology for real-time location services in the digitised world of mobility.”